YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK — There is no single Yellowstone.
Yes, there are iconic features that everyone sees — Old Faithful, the Lower Falls, Mammoth Hot Springs and even the Roosevelt Gate.
But, Yellowstone Park is different every single day. On a sunny fall day, the streams meandering through the meadows are highlighted by beacons of golden Aspen. On a snowy day, the Douglas firs and spruce trees lining the roads look like the Christmas tree version of infinity pools.
Even the rain can change a visitor’s focus. A visit to Mammoth Hot Springs on a rainy, cloudy day forces your attention to the springs, not the magnificent vista of endless prairies and snow-capped peaks in the distance.
And, in reality, there are different parks.
There are the thermal areas located near Old Faithful. There are the mountain passes — visitors cross the Continental Divide on numerous occasions. Then, there is Yellowstone Lake and the Lamar Valley.
The wildlife, naturally, corresponds to the topography.
Bison roam in great numbers in the Lamar Valley. There is something undeniably American about seeing the herds scattered along sagebrush covered hillsides. There are moose meandering about the marshy areas near the park’s south entrance, big horn sheep and antelope ranging near the north entrance.
Elk? They’re seemingly everywhere, particularly lounging about the town square of Mammoth Hot Springs.
Sometimes, there are even bonus attractions — like four wolves chasing a pair of elk cows into a river near Prismatic Springs or a badger digging in a hillside at Lamar Valley.
There is a different Yellowstone every day.